CCR staff use state-issued equipment to document the conditions that exist when conducting regulatory activities by:
- taking photographs;
- recording video and audio;
- creating digital files; and
- obtaining digital files from the operation, law enforcement or another person, agency or entity.
Over time, photographs, video, audio and digital files can assist CCR with documenting and identifying patterns in an operation's compliance history.
1410 Use of State-Issued Equipment
CCR staff are provided with state-issued equipment such as computers, tablets and mobile phones to complete regulatory activities. CCR staff must:
- ensure the security of the equipment both in the office and in the field, according to the HHS Asset Management Guide and Policy;
- use equipment in accordance with the HHS Information Security Acceptable Use Policy; and
- ensure only authorized CCR staff use the equipment.
When taking photographs, video or audio, CCR staff must use the equipment issued to them. CCR staff may not use other personal devices.
Before using the state-issued equipment for documentation, CCR staff must:
- be instructed in the equipment's use; and
- become familiar with the equipment to learn its advantages and limitations.
1420 Using Photographs and Video as a Regulatory Tool
CCR staff notify the operation before taking photographs or video, except when a supervisor has determined that taking photographs or video as part of surveillance is necessary.
The primary use of photographs and video is to document conditions that exist when CCR activities are conducted. Over time, photographs and video can assist CCR with documenting and identifying patterns in an operation's compliance history.
Photos may be useful in various circumstances, including:
- when a written description alone cannot provide a clear picture of what was observed;
- documenting evidence of a deficiency discovered during an inspection;
- documenting repeated deficiencies;
- documenting activities at an unregulated operation;
- supporting or refuting an allegation of a deficiency during an investigation;
- documenting a good practice at an operation;
- documenting evidence to support an action that will be taken against an operation;
- supporting due process, including serving as evidence; or
- consulting with a supervisor or the Child Care Licensing Legal Enforcement Department before making a determination about a deficiency.
Video may be useful in various circumstances, including:
- capturing a 360-degree view; or
- walking the path the child took and show hazards, such as traffic conditions.
1421 Using Audio as a Regulatory Tool
September 28, 2018
At the beginning of the inspection, Licensing staff must inform the person that the inspection is being recorded. The recording of the inspection must be accurate, unaltered, and without interruption.
The primary use of audio recording is to record an accurate account of what was discussed during the inspection.
Audio recording an inspection may be useful in various circumstances, including, but not limited to:
- recording interviews of individuals to determine whether or not a violation occurred; or
- documenting to uphold a finding.
1422 Photographs and Video of Children
Photos and videos that include children should be taken only when there is a necessary business purpose. Photographs and videos that include children are confidential.
Instances when taking photos of children may be useful include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Documenting the particular physical condition of the child;
- Documenting a child's reach;
- Documenting scale of an object or area in relation to a child;
- Occasions when it is necessary to photograph the child to document a deficiency;
- Occasions when moving the child or group of children to not be in the photo would disturb their activities;
- Occasions when delaying taking the photo until a time when children are not present would delay Licensing's ability to accurately document conditions or items being photographed; and
- Documenting an injury or the lack of injury when an injury is alleged.
Instances when taking video of children may be useful include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Obtaining a more accurate picture of marks or bruises when a photo alone is not clear;
- Recording when children are out of control and the caregiver's response to them; and
- Recording children outside without supervision.
See 8210 Confidential Information Not for Release to the Public.
When photographing a child to document an injury or the particular physical condition of the child, Licensing staff do as follows:
- Take all photographs against a neutral, uncluttered background.
- Attend to the lighting, focus, and the distance from the child to obtain clear photographs. A camera flash that is used too close to an injury may bleach the injury out of the photograph.
- Start by taking an identifying photograph of the child.
- Continue by taking photographs that identify the child and pinpoint the location of the child's injury or particular physical condition.
- Follow with close-up shots of the particular injury.
1422.1 Taking Sensitive Photographs
If an alleged victim's injury or alleged injury is in a private area of the body, the investigator must assess whether taking a photograph is appropriate and necessary. The investigator takes into consideration:
- the age and maturity of the child;
- any objections by the child or parent; and
- whether any other evidence exists to verify the existence or extent of the injury that might make the photograph unnecessary.
If photographs are taken, a witness must be present when clothing is removed and the investigator photographs the child.
If there is other evidence, such as medical reports or pictures taken by law enforcement or a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) that documents the extent of the injuries to a child's private area, then taking pictures is not necessary.
The investigator includes the witness's name and job title in the documentation.
If evidence other than photographs is used to document the extent of a child's injury in a sensitive area, the investigator documents that the evidence was sufficient and that photographs were not necessary.
1423 Photographs of a Facility, House, Room, or Outdoor Area
It is impossible for one photograph to depict an entire room without distortion.
When taking a photograph of a facility, house, room, or outdoor area, Child Care Licensing staff follow these guidelines:
- Plan the photographs carefully and take them from a good vantage point.
- Take a series of three or four photos in a clockwise sequence, covering the entire area.
- Take photographs from eye level to achieve the proper perspective.
- Photograph the general area, first, to identify a particular area that must be shown in a detailed close-up.
As an alternative, Licensing staff may take video depicting a 360-degree view of the room or outdoor area.
1424 Inappropriate Use of Photographs or Video
It is not appropriate to use photos or video to document an operation's:
- violation of the child-caregiver ratio;
- violation of the group size; or
- deficiencies in record keeping.
Such violations are best documented with:
- clear, concise descriptions; and
- copies of relevant records, when appropriate.
1425 Taking Photographs That Present Better Evidence
To be used as evidence in an administrative review or a court hearing, a photograph must satisfy the following requirements:
- The subject of the photograph must be shown from a normal perspective. Photographs must be taken from a normal eye-level viewpoint and under the same lighting conditions that existed at the time of the incident, if possible.
Avoid the distortion caused by:
- wide-angle lenses; and
- shooting from odd vantage points.
- The object of the photograph must be material to the case and must not incite prejudice.
- At least one photograph taken during the inspection or investigation must contain proof of the identity of the operation in which the photograph is being taken, such as:
- a sign bearing the operation's name; or
- the presence of the director or owner in the photograph.
- The Licensing staff person taking the photographs must attest to the accuracy of the photographs.
- Photographs of injuries or alleged injuries must be taken in a timely fashion. Photographs must not be altered in any manner. The photograph must show a true and accurate account of the subject of the photograph. If enhancements are needed for clarity (such as enlarging, cropping, or brightening), Licensing staff must obtain photographic services outside of HHSC. See 1440 Printing and Destroying Digital Photographs.
1426 Overcoming an Operation's Resistance to Being Photographed
Child Care Licensing staff have the authority to:
- inspect an operation; and
- document the inspection of an operation.
Human Resources Code §42.044
If the operation objects to having photographs taken of the operation or the children in care, Licensing staff:
- explain that Chapter 42 of the Human Resources Code allows Licensing to inspect the operation and document the inspection;
- explain that it can be to the operation's advantage for Licensing to take photographs that document the situation; and
- explain, as appropriate, the purpose of the photographs, such as to:
- document deficiencies when their validity may be questioned by a supervisor;
- enable adequate consultation with a supervisor; or
- document that deficiencies do not exist.
If the operation is still resistant to having photographs taken of the operation or the children in care, Licensing staff consult with the supervisor.
For policy regarding allowing review of photos or audio or video recordings, see 8210 Confidential Information Not for Release to the Public.
1427 Using Scanned Documents and Other Digital Files as a Regulatory Tool
CCR staff notify the operation before scanning copies of operation records.
When conducting regulatory activities and making regulatory decisions, CCR staff may create digital files or use digital files provided to CCR. Examples of digital files include:
- email communications;
- PDF documents created with approved computer applications; and
- digital photographs and videos provided to CCR by the operation, law enforcement or another person, agency or entity.
The primary use of scanned documents and other digital files is to document conditions that exist when CCR activities are conducted. Scanned documents and other digital files may be useful in circumstances, including:
- identifying patterns in an operation’s compliance history;
- documenting evidence of part of an inspection or investigation;
- identifying and documenting evidence associated with falsification of records; and
- documenting conditions associated with following-up on a deficiency.
1430 Documenting and Storing Photographs, Video, Audio, Scanned Documents and Other Digital Files
Photographs, video, audio, scanned documents and other digital files do not replace written documentation in the case record in CLASS; they supplement the narrative description.
All photographs, video, audio, written documentation, scanned documents and other digital files taken by CCR staff or received from persons outside of HHSC must be:
- documented in the CLASS system; and
- stored on the CCR Digital Storage SharePoint site.
6423 Recording Interviews
Appendix 1000-1 Organizing Child Care Regulation Records
1431 Documenting Photographs, Video, Audio, Scanned Documents and Other Digital Files
Photographs, video, audio, scanned documents and other digital files created by CCR staff or received from sources outside of HHSC are documented as follows:
- If related to an investigation, document the item in the Contact field of the CLASS Investigation Conclusion page;
- If related to an inspection, assessment or foster home random-sampling inspection, include a statement the item was taken, created or received in the text box in CLASS Form 2936 (operation inspections), CLASS Form 2939 (assessments) or CLASS Form 2979 (foster home random-sampling inspections).
- If related to other regulatory activities, document the item in a Chronology in CLASS.
If the CCR inspector receives the item from another person, the inspector documents the name of the individual who took or provided the item to CCR.
1432 Storage of Photographs, Video, Audio, Scanned Documents and Other Digital Files
As soon as possible, but no later than the next business day from the date that CCR staff takes, receives or creates photographs, video, audio, scanned documents or other digital files, CCR staff uploads the photographs, video, audio, scanned documents or other digital files to the appropriate folder on the CCR Digital Storage SharePoint site. CCR staff save all digital files to a folder that identifies the:
- Program (DC or RC);
- Region number;
- Operation name and number; and
- CCR activity such as the inspection or investigation number.
For additional details, see the Digital Storage Job Aid located on the CCR Digital Storage SharePoint site.
1433 Documenting and Storing Printed Photographs Received from an Outside Source
If CCR receives a printed photograph for an inspection or investigation from an outside source, CCR staff scan and upload the photograph to the CCL Digital Storage SharePoint site.
For information on handling printed photographs that were taken by CCR staff, see 1440 Printing and Destroying Digital Photographs and Other Hardcopy Documents.
1440 Printing and Destroying Digital Photographs and Other Hardcopy Documents
1441 Printing Digital Photographs
CCR staff print digital photographs:
- only as needed; and
- when permission is granted by a district director, a manager, CCR state office staff or an HHSC attorney.
When printing photographs, CCR staff must preserve the original digital image and save the image as Read Only. Staff must label the prints with:
- the name and number of the operation,
- the inspection number, the investigation number, or both, and
- a brief description of the photograph.
Photographs that are taken and printed by CCR staff are not required to be stored in the operation's hard copy record, since the photographs are stored on the CCL Digital Storage site.
1442 When and How to Destroy Photos and Other Hardcopy Documents
If the printed photographs and other hardcopy documents are not stored in the hard copy record, CCR staff must destroy them.
If there is an active litigation hold, CCR must maintain the physical copies of any document related to the hold, even if the document has been uploaded to the CCL Digital SharePoint site. Otherwise, CCR staff may destroy hardcopies of documents that have been uploaded to the CCL Digital Storage SharePoint site.
Acceptable methods of destruction include:
- burning; and